The Forest Inventory and Analysis (FIA) program is the nation’s only comprehensive forest inventory system for assessing the health and sustainability of the nation’s forests across all ownerships.
The 1998 Farm Bill mandated the USDA Forest Service to partner with the states and non-governmental interests to implement a nationally consistent, annual inventory program in all states, ensuring timely availability of data and developing state level reports every five years.
Credible forest inventory data
The FIA Program collects data on everything from forest species composition, to forest growth rates, to forest health data. The program provides unbiased information which serves as the basis for monitoring trends in wildlife habitat, wildfire risk, insect and disease threats, predicting spread of invasive species and for solving many other resource questions. It is a particularly important tool used to in the long-term monitoring and development of state forestry agency Forest Action Plans required by the 2008 Farm Bill.
Baselines for renewable energy and carbon markets
The broad forestry and environmental community rely on the FIA program more than ever to provide information about biomass and carbon sequestration in forests. For instance, FIA data currently plays an important role in carbon accounting systems found in existing voluntary carbon trading programs. FIA estimates also help renewable energy investors identify landscapes where a sustainable supply of woody-biomass is available before siting wood-based bioenergy facilities and help confirm to foreign governments purchasing this biomass that it is coming from sustainably managed forests. With the growth of renewable energy, FIA will serve a valuable role in determining how our forest resources can contribute to an improved environment while fostering economic development in rural forest-based economies.
Improved understanding of the nation’s family forest owners
The National Woodland Owner Survey (NWOS) is the social component of the FIA program which reports on private forest ownership patterns and trends. Nearly half of the family forest lands in the U.S. are owned by individuals over 65 years of age leaving a number of unanswered questions as land is transferred from one generation to the next or potentially divided and sold outside the family. The NWOS survey provides the baseline information needed to make better policy decisions designed to keep families and individuals interested in maintaining healthy and productive forests.